If you hear someone talk about a business model using one of the above terms, there’s a good chance it’s a multi-level marketing business. But understand this: just because a business uses one of the above terms, DOES NOT automatically mean it’s an MLM. As we’ll see later on, a business that uses direct sales to get products or services to the consumer might not be an MLM.
Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?

Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985),[51] pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997),[52] or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999),[53] such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996),[54] and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)".[52][55] In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.[56]


Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested.
What is your vision for 2018? What would success look like? Pick a total Network Marketing income level that you would consider to be success for 2018. Write that number down…and then double it. Many of you are playing too small. You haven’t given yourself permission to go to the level of your capability. So, double your number. And tell the wo ...…

That is really the magical element behind the multi-billion dollar market that is the direct sales and network marketing industries. And a large part of those are MLM-fashioned businesses that offer primarily are styled as health and wellness supplements in the name of weight loss, cognitive enhancement, skin care, hair care, beauty, anti-aging, dieting and anything else nutritionally-related or health-focused.
The sales force needs to be armed with incredible product. Selling is an extremely hard sport. When the sales force has inadequate product, their jobs are made that much more difficult, which then has corrosive affects on the company when people resort to cheating to move sub-par product. Learn from Toys R Us: if similar products can be obtained elsewhere at comparable prices, bankruptcy is inevitable.
Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.
Go Pro Recruiting Mastery – the world’s #1 generic training event for the Network Marketing Profession.  Join us December 4-6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You will hear from top thought leaders including Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners.  It’s an extraordinary event that you and your team can’t afford to miss.
Well done Melaleuca, they hit over a billion dollars in yearly sales…there’s a reason they are a part of the select few considered to be at the top. Adding to this is their longevity, because they’ve been in the MLM industry for over 20 years, and now they’ve reached the status of the “largest online wellness shopping club” (which can sound fancier than it is, because are they aren’t selling anything more than a fantasy diet pill).
At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.

I am with Beachbody. There is nothing better than actually being able to watch someone transform their lives. Health and wellness is THE place to be and everyone needs proper nutrition PERIOD. Beachbody has the tools and corporate backing to make it worth a look. Not very often do I find a new customer who has not already heard of at least on Beachbody product from their TV advertising


The Internet has made it so easy now. In the old days you had to actually visit people, or at least call them, to pitch your fabulous new opportunity. Face-to-face marketing is still practiced, but it is not so common these days. Besides, no one really loves the idea of having someone over, so they go online where everyone can be as safe as they want. They create sites with videos, testimonials, and pictures.
Not all MLM companies are pyramid schemes — but many are universally reviled by both the people who work for them and the potential customers who are sick of constantly being pestered by friends to buy the products. Ahead, discover the most hated multi-level marking companies today — including the one with a billion dollar lawsuit pending (number 7).

Eric Worre sits down with Gloria Mayfield Banks and talks about the “it” factor. Gloria shares her view on what the defining characteristics are of the high achievers. What does it take for a person to excel in Network Marketing? Gloria shares that it’s not your personality. She’s seen all types of personalities at the top of the game. It’s abo ...…


But if you understand how traditional direct selling used to work before MLMs, you’ll see that they really aren’t in the direct sales biz. If your grandpa sold encyclopedias door-to-door when he was in college, ask him if he was required to buy the encyclopedia sets himself in order to sell them to others. Ask him if he had to personally purchase a certain number of encyclopedias a month or year to keep his job. And then ask him if he was pressured to recruit more salesmen beneath him. The answer to all of those questions will be no. He didn’t make any money recruiting people to be salesmen — he made his money selling encyclopedias to housewives.
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Network marketing isn't about taking advantage of your friends and relatives. Only a few years ago, network marketing meant retailing to, and sponsoring people from, your "warm list" of prospects. Although sharing the products or services and the opportunity with people you know is still the basic foundation of the business, today we see more people using sophisticated marketing techniques such as the Internet, conference calling and other long-distance sponsoring techniques to extend their network across the country.
If you need something just see if this company has it, because chances are they do.  They are recognized for their greatly discounted product one-stop-shop, as they are wealthy CEOs.  The CEOs have made it to the Forbes list, drive nice cars, live in mansions in Biscayne Bay, penthouses in Manhattan, and are well-known with celebrities…I could go on, but you get the picture, right?  And this is all in credit to their MLM.  They’ve hit snags in their past with the SEC, but at the end of the day they just kept going, and they’re going strong.  Market America still managed to make it onto the DSN Global 100 at the 29th position.
Dr. Brezinski’s point is well taken and easy to see practiced by popular network marketing companies.  Many MLM and NM companies tout a three-to-five year plan to attain freedom and wealth, yet many of the people running company meetings have been in the business for five or ten years and still haven’t left their full-time job or landed on easy street.  “As it turns out,” Dr. Brezinski notes, “when other human needs are being met, the members and consultants don’t focus solely on the financial aspects.”

She soon found that there were major downsides. The company billed itself as something that could be done on a part-time schedule with very little money down, but Cramer was working around-the-clock and racking up costs, including fees to travel to company meetings and buy new inventory. Earning money required bringing on new recruits, and Cramer felt guilty when an unemployed woman fighting bankruptcy was willing to invest her meager savings in getting started, even though Cramer knew the woman didn't have the skills or temperament to succeed. Cramer eventually soured on the experience and quit. "It cost me about $10,000 by the time I got out of it," she says.
Consultants involved in multi-level marketing usually sell products directly to consumers through relationships and word of mouth. Nearly 9 out of every 10 consultants are part-time, and work out of the home as distributors of a given line of products. Many multi-level companies also employ a “party plan” strategy, where consultants (and possibly also the consultant’s “upline”) invite friends and other interested customers in the area to a party at the consultant’s home (or other available location). Many products are demonstrated, everyone has a good time, and by the end of the party the consultant has hopefully made several sales—and possibly even recruited a new consultant (who in turn become that salesperson’s downline).
Earning more than $2 million in Network Marketing commissions a year, and more than $15 million in total over the past 13 ye­­­ars, Calvin Becerra started his Network Marketing career at the age of 24. Previously in the mortgage banking industry, Calvin embraced Network Marketing and, in his first 8 months, became the youngest millionaire in his company. Since then, he has built a massive organization of hundreds of thousands of people that is represented in more than 90 countries worldwide and includes 10 people earning more than $1 million in commissions a year.
Get the company’s refund policy in writing. Make sure it includes information about returning any unused products, including restrictions and penalties. It may seem like you’re minimizing your risk if you can return products for a reimbursement, but policies vary on whether you’ll get a full refund — and how long it may take. Many plans require you to buy training or marketing materials, or pay for seminars if you want to get product discounts or create your own network of distributors. Find out how much time and money other distributors spent on training, marketing materials, and seminars when they joined the plan, and whether the plan requires you to participate in periodic training. What happens if you opt out of the training?
The interviews and psychological connections lead me to conclude that MLM and NM companies, along with other small businesses opportunities, are important considerations for anyone entering retirement.  In fact, I believe the concept of starting a business for retirement income will become one of the most significant trends impacting retirement in the 21st century.  But it has to start with redefining entrepreneurship and framing it into a retirement lifestyle.  That means helping people find ways to turn a passion, hobby, or personal desire into extra money in their pocket… not to mention helping people see the importance of  planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement such as replacing a work identity, staying relevant and connected, as well as keeping mentally and physically fit.
This is awesome! I didn’t know there was an MLM company that sells wine. I may look into this. I’m still on the search for a solid company. I pretty much have PTSD with MLM companies because of past teams I signed up under. They were all about hype and money but never did explain HOW to build the business. It was so bad that I am now more cautious and aware of these type of people.

I enjoyed this post and spent too many hours reading all your other posts and watching your videos. You have some excellent real life experiences to share and glad I found this blog. My wife and I are with It Works Global (She started it and I came on board later). I was curious why they didn’t make your list? Do you think blogging would work with this type MLM? I have only had success using Instagram and Facebook. The MLM model is not something I like but it is what is I guess. My wife joined to get a discount on wraps and now this insane looking chart pays the bills. I want to take it further just keep searching for a good way to do so. Maybe blogging is the answer? Thank you. for your time. Mike
The major defining difference between other companies and MLM, is that they don’t mass market themselves, spending millions of dollars on television, radio and internet ads, but instead allocate that portion of their budget to pay hard working distributors who pound the pavement, form personal al relationships with clients, advocate their product, and hence donthe “marketing” for them.
Pyramid schemes come in all forms. A really simple example are those chain letter things where you’d get a letter with seven names and addresses. You were supposed to send $1 to the names on the list. After you did that you were supposed to add your own name to the bottom of the list and send the letter off to at least 7 people. Supposedly you could make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few weeks doing this.

Hey Erica, I’m a doterra gal also. Just over 3 years ago I just wanted to see if these hippie oils really worked from there I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and I share with whomever will listen. I recently read this in the leadership magazine and I love it. “An oil for every household, a drop to change a life”. That is my goal. I never plan to get rich off my sharing but if I can change a life, help someone along the way it will be worth my time.


Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers.  They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds.  They’re shifting their focus from accumulating a giant nest egg to a desire to be part of something bigger and better… to have a positive effect on others... and working in retirement.  Facets of life that can be fulfilled with specific types of products and service available through some MLM or Direct selling opportunities. 

But the FTC’s newfound toughness may come to naught in the Trump era. There’s little hope, according to both critics and cheerleaders of the MLM industry, that the Trump administration will assume such a strict posture toward Herbalife’s peers. “The more likely scenario is that they just won’t bring a pyramid scheme case,” said Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising, a consumer advocacy group that helped the FTC in its prosecution of Vemma, a nutritional-product MLM that the FTC alleged was a pyramid scheme in August 2015. The case was settled in December on terms similar to the Herbalife one. (Neither Vemma nor Herbalife admitted guilt in their settlements.)
Go Pro Recruiting Mastery – the world’s #1 generic training event for the Network Marketing Profession.  Join us December 4-6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You will hear from top thought leaders including Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners.  It’s an extraordinary event that you and your team can't afford to miss.
Many people who complain about network marketing say they don't like the idea of "using" their friends and family to make money. However, network marketing doesn't reward people for using others. Success in network marketing comes from helping others reach their goals. A person cannot earn income from the efforts of their recruits without investing time in assisting them to earn income, as well. Admittedly, some network marketers see potential recruits as dollar signs, but those people are not as successful as those who are genuine in their effort to help their recruits do well.

Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM.  She’s been able to replace her full-time income but explains, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I still work every day.  I am very disciplined with my business and wake up every day knowing what I have to do in order to succeed at this.  You have to treat it like a business and be willing to follow advice from others who have made it.” 

Besides earning money off your own sales, you also earn a percentage of the income generated by the distributors that you've brought into the program (these are known as your downline). Often there are bonuses for selling particular amounts of product or signing up a certain number of new members; you can earn cars and trips as well as cash. Sounds good, doesn't it? And being part of a well-run MLM business can be a lot like being a member of a large extended family.
Meet Clive Leach & Diana Ross With more than 25 years in the Profession and over 178,000 customers in their organization, Clive Leach and Diana Ross are an entertaining and inspiring husband and wife power couple from the United Kingdom. Although their upbringings and early lives were quite different, Network Marketing brought them together and ...…
A good MLM will have more than a few products to sell. They will have more than market sector covered (not just nutritional supplements, water filters or essential oils). They will also have other major retailers that they market for. The money those major corporations spend on the annual marketing, will be paid out to the MLM and their distributors for their sales & marketing efforts and results. That is where those companies will get
With network marketing, there are no big capital requirements, no geographical limitations, no minimum quotas required and no special education or skills needed. Network marketing is a low-overhead, homebased business that can actually offer many of the tax advantages associated with owning your own business. Network marketing is a people-to-people business that can significantly expand your circle of friends. It's a business that enables you to travel and have fun as well as enjoy the lifestyle that extra income can provide.
Because of its relational aspect, the products usually involved, and the gender of the consultants themselves, women are the predominant target for MLM strategies. However, the gender proportion shifts significantly in the case of financial and/or insurance companies. When it’s time to develop a financial portfolio or consider a term life-insurance policy, it’s usually a joint decision made by husband and wife, or by the head of the household regardless of gender.
It's true that not everyone succeeds in network marketing. The 2-10% of network marketers earning big money are the same 2-10% who work consistently in their businesses. But getting rich shouldn't be how network marketing is judged. If getting rich is the measure of success, then many other homes and small business owners, and the majority of employees in traditional jobs are big failures.  Instead, network marketing should be measured by the number of people who reach their goals. Many people in network marketing find success when they earn enough to stay home with the kids or pay off debt. 

Before launching Omnilife and becoming a billionaire, Jorge Vergara sold street tacos in Mexico, smuggled Herbalife supplements into Mexico, and sweet talked the Mexican government into changing their regulations in the nutritional products sector. This guy could make a movie about his life and it would probably win an Academy Award (he’s actually a major film producer on the side, casual).

Want to know where the best skincare products in the land of the MLM world are? Right here with Rodan and Fields.  A pair of dermatologists founded this company as an expensive department store product before emerging onto the scene of network marketing.  They are the ones who made and created Proactiv and they hit success and ended up with the best skincare products of all time (every teenager’s savior, as it became the solution that worked for everyone).  Their one product line rakes in almost $1 billion in yearly sales.
The interviews and psychological connections lead me to conclude that MLM and NM companies, along with other small businesses opportunities, are important considerations for anyone entering retirement.  In fact, I believe the concept of starting a business for retirement income will become one of the most significant trends impacting retirement in the 21st century.  But it has to start with redefining entrepreneurship and framing it into a retirement lifestyle.  That means helping people find ways to turn a passion, hobby, or personal desire into extra money in their pocket… not to mention helping people see the importance of  planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement such as replacing a work identity, staying relevant and connected, as well as keeping mentally and physically fit.
When pitching people face-to-face doesn’t work, you go online and start posting about the MLM all the time. You follow the formula recommended by the company: one post about the brand, then one about your family, then one about your lifestyle, then one about the brand again. But you notice that no one comments or likes your posts. Your follower count on Instagram has gone down. Finally, a friend DMs you and lets you know that a lot of people have blocked you on Facebook.
Go Pro Recruiting Mastery – the world’s #1 generic training event for the Network Marketing Profession.  Join us December 4-6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You will hear from top thought leaders including Magic Johnson, John Maxwell, and dozens of Million-Dollar Earners.  It’s an extraordinary event that you and your team can’t afford to miss.

At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.
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